Kim followed me thinking I knew the way (he too got lost the day prior and ended up riding 135 miles). Well, the group never came up on us because we were lost and riding off course. Kim and I decided to just keep it steady rather than try and chase down the group. About 30 minutes into the ride, two riders came up on us and after establishing that they too were coast riders, the four of us decided to work together to chase the group down.
As we rode to chase the group down, I saw a lot of carnage on the road. The second day was marred with lots of mechanical issues. It was like the bikes were telling their riders, "Enough already, I give up!" I too would fall victim to bike mechanical issues. At around mile 30, my rear derailer cable snapped. I was in my 53-11 and I had to grind my way to the fuel stop at mile 32. Once there, I was intent on finding a solution that would allow me to ride some more, quitting was not an option. I think the company I keep heavily influenced my decision to try and continue to ride. Through the years, I've witnessed and heard so many stories of friends who had to overcome some mishap or adversity to get to the finish. I was going to honor those friendships and contribute my own story of overcoming adversity to get to the finish. Awesome Steve Woo put his mechanical skills to work and I was left with two gears: 53-17 and 39-17.
By the time I got back on my bike, I was one of the last riders, and I was riding solo on the longest climb of the day. It was a pretty lonely 30-40 minutes until I saw rider up in the distance. This motivated me to try and catch the rider. The next 50 miles I rode solo, and as a carrot, I would try and pull in as many riders as I could. During these solo 50 miles, I thought about a lot of things. I thought about how much I suck riding in a group. I thought about how much I love mashing big gears and this was a good excuse to mash said big gears. I thought about how much better I felt today than yesterday, and how I've been totally void of nutritional mood swings. And then I thought about Charisa. How she was riding in the front group, mixing it up not only with the guys, but pro guys. And I thought about how just three years ago, both she and I were trying to break 10 hours for an ironman. I think it's really easy to sit on your ass watching ironmanlive, and say, "Gee I wanna do an ironman" or "I wanna break 10 hours". It's a whole different story to pull said ass out day after day, to do all of the training, often lonely training, to accomplish said things. Charisa has done ALL the training, and she continues to do ALL of the training to get it done. She worked her ass off to go under 10 hours several times, even breaking 9:30. On the first day of the coast ride, Charisa turned to me and said, "Kiet, it's supposed to hurt. Ian taught me that." So when I was riding those 50 solo miles with just two gears, I kept telling myself it's supposed to hurt.
Riding with a distracted mind, I made it to the 80 mile lunch stop, and what I thought would be my finish line for the day. But after talking to several people, all of whom encouraged me to do the full ride, I decided to make it an epic day. I chowed down a reese's peanut butter cup and a dr. pepper and I was on my way. Within the first 5 miles, I came up on a hill and I was hurting, and I felt this hand on my back. It was a guy who I met the day before, and he heard about my predicament, and he pushed me up the hill. I tried to stay on his wheel after but I soon lost it. Then I felt another hand on my back and this time, with the following words, "We are just keeping it steady, nothing fast, I'll do all the pulling if you just drop in and keep track of the girls and keep us all together." For the next 20 miles, I occupied the rear spot of the pace line, a couple of times, barely hanging on. My neuroma started to act up and with each push on the pedal, it was like stepping on pins. I had to pull out of the pace line and pull my feet out and stretch them, I was going to lose the train. But then, the entire train stopped! NO way! Turns out one of the girls thought she had a flat so the group stopped to check. This gave me just enough time to deal with the neuroma and I was back on the train. And even more lucky, another train came upon us and now we were an even bigger group. Everybody looked pretty spent but for the next 20 miles, as tired as we all were, we found reasons to laugh. The last 5 miles were pretty tough for me, I was seeing stars and having that panic feeling, often due to dehydration and low blood sugar. So many times I contemplated just stopping and hitching a ride, after all, I had a valid excuse right? But I was within 5 miles of completing an epic story: 127 miles total, 97 miles with two gears! Another rider turned to me and said, "Kiet, you gotta finish this. It will be epic if you finish." And just like that, I found the reserves and the motivation to get to the finish line.
70.3 Liuzhou Race Story
2 weeks ago